This series is based on the book written by Paul R. Wilkerson UNDERSTANDING CHRISTIAN ZIONISM
Commentary provided by James Fire
What is Zionism? It is a term that is often used disparagingly by some who think either that the people in that land have no rights or claim to it, that they are not 'real Jews' or that the Zionist agenda is at best a work of the flesh or at worst satanic and not at all of God.
Others who adhere to amillennial eschatology or its subsequent variations believe that the church is 'the new Israel' since the nation of the Jews have rejected their Messiah.
TTUF adheres to a pre-millennial eschatology, fully recognizes Israel, not necessarily for her own claims, but because of the promises of God which He made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the twelve tribes of Israel as recorded in sacred Scripture.
On the outset it must be acknowledged that there are different forms of Zionism that have different levels of authenticity, ranging from none at all, such as the occult form, to that which is endorsed in Scripture which the LORD Himself is fulfilling in His time. There is also Social/Cultural Zionism and political Zionism that fall somewhere between these two extremes.
Paul Wilkinson aptly and precisely diagrams the road map for Israel's biblical legitimacy and how she fits into prophecy, apart from the mission and destiny which the LORD has for the church of the LORD Jesus Christ.
In his introduction found in Chapter One: DEFINING CHRISTIAN ZIONISM, we read this verse:
For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth.
And the following:
“The world is waking up to the realization that the establishment of the modern State of Israel in 1948 cannot be explained simply in terms of political Zionism, but must take into account of a powerful, groundswell movement among Christians that has been running alongside. Based on a literal interpretation of the Bible, this movement influenced British foreign policy in the Middle East in the nineteenth, and early Twentieth centuries, culminating in the Balfour Declaration of 1917, and is having a major impact on current American foreign policy in the region. This movement is called Christian Zionism.”
Some claim that Balfour was supposedly cooperating with members of different secret organizations that promoted occult Zionism; in the majority, funded by the Rothschilds. You can read about such things here.
Be that as it may, if the LORD can use Satan to accomplish His purposes, then anything that such occultists might do in order to fund and promote Israel for their own agenda would likewise serve God's greater purpose (the regathering and salvation of Israel, and the reign of the Messiah as her rightful King) as stated throughout Scripture. Even a man as evil as Adolf Hitler was used of God, I believe, to prompt the Jews to escalate their efforts in procuring their homeland for their own peace and security. Others such as Nebuchadnezzar and Darius were used of God in chastening Israel.
Unanimously the Muslim nations of the world consider Zionism to be “criminal” and staunchly oppose such beliefs and conduct that accommodate Zionist objectives. The United Nations, the EU and of late*, even the United States are increasingly opposing Israel and her right to the land.
* Perhaps not as “late” as we might think; if Dave Hunt is correct in his observations regarding the State Department of the US Government and their 'behind the scenes' schemes to impede and trouble the nation of Israel, as documented in his book JUDGMENT DAY.
Here is a link to a PDF from The BEREAN CALL where you can order this book and also read a TBC article based on this work.
Here is a link to a PDF from The BEREAN CALL where you can order this book and also read a TBC article based on this work.
There are those Christians however of the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries who adhere to a literal interpretation of Scripture, that love Israel, pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and support that nation. One of the earliest supporters of these centuries was John Nelson Darby, founder of the Plymouth Brethren.
Paul Wilkinson comments:
“John Nelson Darby . . . did indeed make a pivotal contribution to the development of Christian Zionism, but I will demonstrate how his doctrines have been misrepresented and misused by Brethren and non-Brethren scholars alike. The lack of critical research into the origins of Christian Zionism and the 'somewhat blinkered' attitude of academics who have viewed the predominantly dispensationalist theology of Christian Zionism as having 'little intrinsic religious or theological value' will be addressed and challenged.”
Mr. Wilkinson explains that the turmoil and tensions in the Middle East are escalating with no sign of abatement, and the cause supposedly are Christian Zionists, which he has defined, traced its origins, charted its historical development and evaluated its impact which in his words “has never been more necessary.”
In order to get the full details of all this, which certainly cannot be justly handled in this review, I would strongly recommend that any interested to purchase a copy of this book, which you can do for example, here on the web site of The BEREAN CALL:
Wilkinson makes the correct distinction between Christian Zionism and Jewish Zionism, pointing out the fact that a relative new comer is emerging on the scene – Christian Palestinianism. You can watch this 30 minute video where the authors of STAND UP FOR THE TRUTH interview Caryl Matrisciana on this subject.
You can also watch this 1 hour presentation on Christian Palestinianism by Paul Wilkinson himself.
JEWISH ZIONISM -
Zionism simply means “a return to Zion [which has] permeated Jewish thinking ever since the earliest days of the Diaspora.”
~ Max Dimont
Faith, land and people “are the strands that enter into the fabric of Jewish history” and that “the resumption of national life in the ancient land is a basic credo of the Orthodox faith.”
~ Rufus Learsi
The land of Israel [is] “the indispensable setting for the playing out of the eschatological drama”
~ David Aune
“As we shall see, this interrelationship between faith, land, and people, which provide the basis for our understanding of Zionism, is firmly rooted in the Hebrew Scriptures, which are replete with references to 'Zion'. Zion is synonymous with the city of Jerusalem (PS. 48:1-2), the Land of Israel (IS. 51:3), and the Jewish people themselves (IS. 51:15-16). So central is Zion to Jewish identity that the psalmist wrote from exile, 'If I forget you, O Jerusalem, Let my right hand forget its skill' (PS. 137:5).”
~ Paul Wilkinson
Its been said before by many that the center of the world is Israel, and at the center of Israel is Jerusalem; and likewise the center of Jerusalem is the Temple. The center of the Temple is of course the Holy of holies and the center of the Holy of holies is the ark of the covenant and the mercy seat – where the LORD God would meet with His people, vicariously through the high priest.
So Israel is integral to God's purpose for His people and also the world at large . . .
In the section entitled The Centrality of Eretz Yisrael we read the following:
“The destruction of the Second Temple and the rise of Christianity, which was Messianic and Jewish by definition, had a marked effect on the eschatology of rabbinic Judaism. In addition, the failed revolt under Bar Kokhba in AD 135 effectively ended the belief that military action, in the Maccabean spirit, could usher in the messianic age and restore Israel's nationhood.”
There were those who disparaged any hope whatsoever of being restored to Israel and so came 'The Jewish Question' which was a call and “a hostile appraisal of Jewish life in Europe” in 1842 by Bruno Bauer, a German philosopher and theologian for Israel to give up their attachment to Zion. This sentiment was mirrored by Reformed Judaism, founded by Israel Jacobson; this movement sought to blend the traditions of Judaism with modern affinities, diminishing liturgy and ritual.
“We modern Jews do not wish to be restored to Palestine*. We have given up hope in the coming of a political personal Messiah. We say 'the country we live in is our Palestine, and the city wherein we dwell is our Jerusalem.' We will not go back...to form again a nationality of our own.”
~ Emil G. Hirsh, Reformed Rabbi; at the November Conference of Christians and Jews, 1890.
* Interesting that Mr. Jacobson would use this particular word “Palestine” which was historically coined by Israel's Roman enemies, basing it on “Palestina” or the Latin word for “Philistine”. Any time a person says “Palestine” instead of “Israel” they are using a term created by Israel's enemies!
Jewish Enlightenment (the Haskalah) at the guidance of such as Moses Mendelssohn attempted to bring Jewish people into assimilation among the nations in which they lived as “teachers and guides” among the Gentiles. Others like Eliezer Ben Yehuda (the leading influence in the creation of the modern Hebrew language) likewise “drank deep at the fount of enlightenment”.
However, increasing hostilities both in Europe and Russia began to shift popular opinion among the Jews regarding the tenants of Enlightenment . . .
In 1883 Nathan Birnbaum helped found Kadimah, the first nationalist fraternity of Jewish students in Western Europe. Two years after this he developed the first Jewish journal (German based) to promote Eretz Yisrael – resettlement in the land. April 1st, in 1890 edition of Selbstemanzipation (Self-emanicipation) that the term 'Zionism' was created.
1893 – Mr. Birnbaum published “The National Rebirth of the Jewish People in Its Own Country as a Means to Resolve the Jewish Question. An Appeal to all Noble-minded Men of Good Will, calling for an international congress to be convened to consider his proposals.” This solution to the 'Jewish Question' was what helped inspire and motivate “ancient hopes and dreams for a Jewish homeland”.
CULTURAL ZIONISM - certainly played a crucial role, with such Jewish men as Sir Moses Montefore, Rabbi Samuel Mohilever and Asher Ginsberg leading the way by establishing funds like The Fund for Cultivation of the Land in Palestine for the Jews and movements like Chibbath Zion (“Love of Zion”) on the heels of Russian pogroms that helped blaze a trail to the Holy Land under such banners as “On to Palestine.” These centers of the newly conceived Zionist movement created a sense of national spirit among the Jewish people. In juxtaposition to this movement there arose another:
POLITICAL ZIONISM - “The trial and public demotion in Paris of Captain Alfred Dreyfuss (interestingly enough the ancestor of contemporary actor Richard Dreyfuss) in 1894 was the spark that ignited the 'zionist fire' in Theodor Herzl, Dreyfuss having been wrongly convicted of treason and sentenced to life imprisonment on Devil's Island. At his demotion, the Parisian crowd shouted, 'Death to the Jews!'.”
Herzl, an assimilated Jew realized that anti-Semitic attitudes were increasing as a result of the Jewish emancipation (France was the first nation to grant Jewish people full rights as citizens in 1791). He wondered that if such a military officer of distinction like Captain Dreyfuss could be so humiliated and disgraced, what hope would there be for the common Jew in Europe? Over a year later Herzl published “Der Judenstaat” (The Jewish State) “in which he resurrected the 'very old' idea of restoring the Jewish homeland.” In 1897 the modern Zionist movement was officially launched by Herzl at the First Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland, at which he described Zionism as “a home-coming to the Jewish fold even before it becomes a home-coming to the Jewish land*.” One of its objectives was “the transformation of the Jewish Question into a question of Zion.”
* Herzl was in fact, willing to discuss a homeland for the Jewish people outside of the borders of Israel. Options for developing a country for Jews in other lands such as Argentina, Cyprus, the Sinai Peninsula and Uganda were acceptable to him.
The problem with Political Zionism can best be explained by a quote by Herzl, its primary founder:
“Shall we end by having a theocracy (rule by God)? No, indeed . . . Every man will be as free and undisturbed in his faith or his disbelief as he is in his nationality.” By so saying Herzl alienated Orthodox Jews and their belief in a political and personal Messiah Who Himself would inaugurate Israel not only as a viable nation, but one from which the King of Israel would rule the world.
Scripture clearly teaches that Israel would be gathered back into the land (the second time per IS. 11:11) in a state of unbelief, not being born of and indwelt by the Spirit of God (EZ. 37:8 states that while flesh and sinew would be formed in the 'body' of Israel, it would initially not have any breath (Hebrew word: ruach) in them. Another word used to describe ruach is “spirit” or in this case, the Spirit of God. The LORD will see to it that His people are saved when they place their faith in Him as their Messiah, at which time, He will place His Spirit in them and give them a new heart (EZ. 36:26).
Yet this is all the LORD's doing, and in Christian Zionism, it is recognized that Israel will indeed be a theocracy (rule by the Word Incarnate, Jesus Christ), and not merely the work of unbelieving Jews who seek political legitimacy for their State. God has used such people in drawing Jewish people into the homeland, but for His own purposes and not theirs.
Zionism according to all of its Jewish advocates is a triangle of sorts, and without any one of its three corners (faith, people and land) it would fail. As time went by it became increasingly obvious that there could be no Israel without the land which God promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Here ends Part One of this series on CHRISTIAN ZIONISM. Starting with the next article we will examine Paul Wilkinson's perspective on exactly what Christian Zionism is, and its nine key elements. Until then, may the LORD bless Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in their children of faith and bring others to know Y'shua as their Messiah.